LaSportiva Mutant trainers are lightweight comfortable mountain running footwear with heavy duty treads and soft soles to fully feel the trails. We haven’t yet found a trainer to match the Mutant that covers every type of weather & surface with ease. They’re not perfect, but they are a lot closer to it than anything we’ve tried.
This post has been updated after more than 3 years of using Mutants on a daily basis. We weren’t asked, paid or requested to write this by La Sportiva, it’s our honest opinions of an outdoor footwear product we love using.
Incredibly lightweight and flexible, La Sportiva Mutants allow a huge amount of control and sensitivity over technical and uneven terrain, like barefoot with better cushioning. The lace system is genius, with the simple side-lace up area that gets covered by mesh the LaSportiva Mutants very rarely come undone or get snagged by undergrowth. We both have slim narrow feet and the Mutants definitely suit our feet dimensions, the body of the trainers really hugs the entire foot when laced up correctly.
Out of the box the grip on the sole is insane, and it lasts that way for a good couple of months. Running and jumping over wet natural stone is a breeze, knowing the sole is going to bite down into the surfaces unlike 99% of other trainers where you’d err on the side of caution. The common Welsh Slate found in our North Wales home is notoriously slippy with even the lightest of dew, but the Mutants give us confidence to keep up a great pace. Even worn down after months of abuse they still offer more grip than most of the competition, but it’s time for a new pair to tackle the most technical mountainous terrain after about 6 months for us. However, with the treads fully worn down these trainers also make fantastic slackline footwear, giving them a happy second life past the toughest trails.
As with everything in life, we’ve identified some minor issues through heavy consistent use that have occurred in every pair we’ve both owned. Although the toe protector itself is really well made and offer great protection against rocks, it starts to come apart at the material over the toes after about 3/4 months of hard use. Similarly the mesh always rips open on the little toe side, around the same time the toe protectors loosen. We are fully bearing in mind that this only occurs because we’re outdoors covering around 60 trail miles a week on average. For a weekend runner or hiker there’s no reason the Mutants shouldn’t comfortably see multiple seasons before experiencing the same level of damage we put them through!
We both usually wear (ankle-less) trainer socks, regardless of weather conditions, but some trainer sock styles seem to work against the heels in the LaSportiva Mutants. We’ve found the less protected the sock is, the more comfortable it becomes with these trainers – i.e. using simple cheap plain cotton trainer socks gives us the most natural feel. This is helpful, as given the La Sportiva Mutants cost around £110 a pair it’s a fairly expensive hobby to keep replacing them every 3/4 months. We spend more on these trainers than all the rest of the gear we use, because our feet are so important to an outdoor lifestyle that having the best quality footwear simply has to be viewed as a great investment in health and wellbeing.
We’ve covered literally thousands of miles and multiple summits of the biggest mountains in Wales, Ireland and England wearing La Sportiva Mutants and they’ve become like wearing house slippers for us both. Wearing anything else on our feet to walk, hike, run or scramble just doesn’t feel the same. The responsiveness of the soles, being able to feel every variation in the terrain while still providing the necessary cushioning, is a feat of clever engineering & design that La Sportiva should be highly commended for in this product.
If we could ask for one variation from La Sportiva it would be amazing to see a Goretex waterproof version – these trainers are so good we still wear them throughout winter conditions and put up with completely drenched feet on a daily basis for months and months of UK weather! The final image below shows Pete on top of Snowdon itself in full winter conditions wearing Mutant trainers, having just ascended the renowned Watkin Path in a foot of fresh snow without any special gear (no crampons, axes, ropes, etc).